Caspar is sad. I find him in the coffee shop sitting in the corner, attached to the Wall by a Gordian Knot. He tells me his Owner has Gone Away and he is being Walked by a Stranger.
Is the Stranger nice? I ask.
The Stranger is lovely, says Caspar, but She is not the Owner.
I realise that Caspar is Bereft. Whilst I have never quite understood what Caspar sees in his Owner, as Caspar’s Owner seems to me to be too dissimilar to my Own Owner to be Ideal, I recognise that Caspar and his Owner are Eternally Bonded. When such Bonds are Severed the Moral Dog is Bereft. Caspar is pining.
Why are you sad, Hergest? Asks the Owner later.
Because Caspar is pining, I say, and we are United in Morally Relevant Bonds of Empathy and Solidarity. If Caspar’s Owner leaves him Forever, he leaves me Forever also. I am Also Bereft.
The Owner sighs. Caspar’s Owner has not left him Forever, she says, he has Gone Skiing. Caspar would not have enjoyed skiing. He would have got Snow in his Fluff.
I say that to a Moral Dog the Absence of the Owner is Forever until Proved Otherwise, no matter what Advance Explanations they offer. This is How it Is.
I see, says the Owner. So when I go to the library, or the Dentist, or to replace the Spectacles that the Moral Dog mistook for his lunch, you too think I have Gone Forever?
I do, I say. I pine regularly. Although Squeaky Cat is Some Compensation. His little Squeak reassures me that there is a Purpose to Eternity. If someone, somewhere, thought it was worth making Squeaky Cat then there is always something to Hope For.
Gosh, says the Owner. Squeaky Cat is a friend indeed.
The following morning in the coffee shop Bercow comments that Caspar is looking Much Happier, which is surprising since his Owner is still not home.
I agree that Caspar looks happier.
He is almost his Usual Bouncy Self, says Houdini.
I agree that, where Bounce is concerned, Caspar is once again approaching Brownian motion.
Caspar is positively Enthusiastic about his Temporary Owner, says Lucifer.
I agree that Caspar appears to be Extremely Pleased when his Temporary Owner tickles his ears and leads him away to the Park. There is a faint sound from her pocket as she opens the door.
Lucifer stares after them.
Was that… ? Says Bercow.
I didn’t hear anything, I say.
Shush, says Houdini, but Bercow does not know how to Shush. Speaking is Bercow’s natural State. Wasn’t that a Squeak from the Temporary Owners’ pocket? He asks.
Lucifer sits on Bercow, who makes muffled sounds from beneath Lucifer’s left hip, and they all look at me. I say nothing.
When I get home the Owner says she is really sorry. Really sorry. She was sure she had Squeaky Cat in her pocket when we went out but he is gone now. She will try to find another, even though she is aware that there is only One Squeaky Cat, despite his frequent resurrections. She knows how much Squeaky Cat means to me.
It is true, there is only one Squeaky Cat. But Caspar is my Friend.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.